Upcoming Israel Gap Year Fair to Offer a Wide Range of Opportunities


Upcoming Israel Gap Year Fair to Offer a Wide Range of Opportunities

Yehudis Litvak

The American Israel Gap Year Association (AIGYA) is once again hosting its Annual American Israel Gap Year Fair on Thursday, November 21, at 6:30 – 9:00 pm, at the Shalhevet High School. As usual, the fair will feature a wide range of gap year programs in Israel, from traditional learning institutions, such as yeshivos and seminaries, to co-ed travel and community service programs. The fair is non-denominational and is the only one in the country to offer such a diverse selection of gap year opportunities for Jewish students of all backgrounds.

“The gap year is really a bridge year,” says Phyllis Folb, Executive Director of AIGYA. “Everything that came before was the foundation. This year is the launching pad, where students take ownership of their Jewish identity and their relationship with Israel.” She adds that spending time in Israel is especially important for students heading to college, where they are likely to encounter negativity towards Israel. “They become eyewitnesses to Israel’s strengths, and they come back to college campuses with the tools to have a conversation about Israel with their professors and peers.”

In addition, secular colleges encourage students to go on a gap year, as it’s been shown to lead to greater academic success, better focus and retention, and lower likelihood of changing one’s major. “During the gap year, students are able to get in touch with what they want and with who they are,” says Mrs. Folb. “For Jewish students, it’s an opportunity to connect to Jewish values and history, to ask themselves what kind of Jewish life they are going to live.”

At the fair, students and their parents will be able to meet with representatives of various programs and ask questions. There will also be two topic sessions: Gap Year 101 and Money Matters, which includes information on scholarships. There are specific scholarships available only to fair attendees, awarded based on the student’s passion and direction for the year.

This year, the AIGYA launched its ambassador program, where students currently in Israel for their gap year chronicle their experiences on social media in real time. This year, fifteen students attending different programs committed to ambassador roles, and they continuously post photos, videos, and descriptions of their learning, trips, and other activities. Eventually, AIGYA plans to have an ambassador in every program presented at the fair.

While the ambassadors’ social media posts can help potential students get a better feel for the program, they also connect and empower the ambassadors themselves. “Being on this ambassador program already made me feel like I have a community of friends that I will connect to throughout my year,” said Sarah Pape, one the Lead Ambassadors, in a press release.

To get the most out of the fair, Mrs. Folb encourages the participants to register in advance. A detailed schedule of the presentations and topic sessions will be emailed to all participants, so they could best plan their evening before they even get there. For more information and to register, please visit http://bit.ly/2019israelfair